Karnataka election results: BJP short of majority, Congress ready to back Kumaraswamy as CM

NEW DELHI: To keep out the BJP, which emerged as Karnataka's single largest party but is short of a majority, the Congress has offered external support to the Janata Dal (Secular) to form government in the state, with its leader HD Kumaraswamy as chief minister. Both the Congress and BJP are expected to meet the state's governor this evening.

Votes are being counted for the Karnataka assembly elections today and at 3pm, the BJP was leading in 104 seats, while the Congress was ahead in 76 and the JD(S) in 39 seats, together crossing the majority mark at 112 in leads, election commission data showed.

"We had a telephonic conversation with Deve Gowda ji and Kumaraswamy. They have accepted our offer. Hopefully, we will be together," said senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. The party has rushed senior leader Ahmed Patel as a "special emissary" to oversee the process.

"So far the result is not known. We will know shortly and then announce the future plans," said BS Yeddyurappa, the BJP's presumptive chief minister, who cancelled his flight to Delhi this afternoon. Yeddyurappa said he is going ahead with his plans for a swearing in ceremony on Thursday, May 17, asserting that the governor is constitutionally bound to first invite the largest party to form government.

The BJP too is reportedly rushing central leaders to Bengaluru to ensure the party is able to form government.

The Karnataka elections are seen as the first major battle that sets the tone for the 2019 Lok Sabha. Up next this year are big contests in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

If it loses Karnataka, the Congress will lose the only big state it now holds apart from Punjab. Prime Minister Narendra Modi taunted the party during a bitter campaign, predicting that the Congress will be reduced today to the PPP party - Punjab, Puducherry and Parivar, the last a reference to the party's first family the Gandhis.

The BJP worked hard in its bid to wrest back the state it lost to the Congress five years ago; Karnataka is the only southern state it has ever held power in.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

 

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PTI